Stuffed donations give kids a friend waiting in the ER

December 6, 2011

By Tom Corrigan

Boy Scout Nathan Karren, 14, sits in his living room surrounded by about 650 stuffed animals he collected for his Eagle Scout service project. By Tom Corrigan

Back when she was 4 or 5, Nathan Karren’s sister had to take what her brother described as more than a few trips to the emergency room.

During those trips to the ER, Nathan remembers that Emma, now 7, would be given a stuffed animal to help her feel better. Nathan, now 14, used that memory of Emma’s experiences as his inspiration when dreaming up a service project in order to earn the rank of Eagle Scout.

In about a month, while it was dubbed “Project Teddy Bear,” Nathan’s undertaking gathered more than 650 stuffed animals of all types, including teddy bears, rabbits, hippos and about every other creature ever recreated as a soft toy. The fuzzy menagerie was delivered to the ER at Overlake Hospital Medical Center in Bellevue on Nov. 29. Nathan’s dad Boyd Karren said the delivery went very nicely.

“He was very well received,” Boyd said.

For his part, Nathan said Scouting is a big part of his life.

“It’s pretty important to me,” he said, adding it’s also a lot of fun.

While Boyd noted approximately one out of every 100 Boy Scouts becomes an Eagle Scout, Nathan is following what seems to be a family tradition. Boyd earned his Eagle award after creating a neighborhood watch group in Bellevue. Both Nathan’s maternal grandfather and great-grandfather were Eagle Scouts. Boyd said his father didn’t get to be an Eagle Scout when he was younger, but has earned a prestigious Silver Beaver award for his adult volunteering with the Scouts.

Nathan said his first move with Project Teddy Bear was having fellow Scouts help canvas neighborhoods for donations. Stuffed donations were left on porches in plastic bags, while monetary donations could be mailed. Nathan said along with the mailed donations, he received several letters from adults who remembered being comforted by a stuffed animal while forced to spend time in the hospital. Further, Nathan set up a Facebook account where visitors could donate money as well.

All in all, Nathan ended up collecting just over $700. The funds went toward the purchase of boxes of stuffed animals from a California company. Both Nathan and his dad said the company offered them a great deal on a large number of toys. Nathan said his goal was to collect a three-month supply of animals to be handed out and he actually surpassed that goal.

For Nathan, the next step toward becoming an Eagle Scout is going before a board of review. Boyd said a date for that board hasn’t been set yet.

Besides wanting to follow in the footsteps of several family members, why did Nathan decide to shoot for Eagle Scout?

“Way back in Cub Scouts, it was just something I promised myself I would do,” he said.

Tom Corrigan: 392-6434, ext. 241, or tcorrigan@isspress.com. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.

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